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  1. Ferroelectric hafnium oxides are poised to impact a wide range of microelectronic applications owing to their superior thickness scaling of ferroelectric stability and compatibility with mainstream semiconductors and fabrication processes. For broad-scale impact, long-term performance and reliability of devices using hafnia will require knowledge of the phases present and how they vary with time and use. In this Perspective article, the importance of phases present on device performance is discussed, including the extent to which specific classes of devices can tolerate phase impurities. Following, the factors and mechanisms that are known to influence phase stability, including substituents, crystallite size, oxygen point defects, electrode chemistry, biaxial stress, and electrode capping layers, are highlighted. Discussions will focus on the importance of considering both neutral and charged oxygen vacancies as stabilizing agents, the limited biaxial strain imparted to a hafnia layer by adjacent electrodes, and the strong correlation of biaxial stress with resulting polarization response. Areas needing additional research, such as the necessity for a more quantitative means to distinguish the metastable tetragonal and orthorhombic phases, quantification of oxygen vacancies, and calculation of band structures, including defect energy levels for pure hafnia and stabilized with substituents, are emphasized.

    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 14, 2023
  2. Abstract

    The presence of the top electrode on hafnium oxide‐based thin films during processing has been shown to drive an increase in the amount of metastable ferroelectric orthorhombic phase and polarization performance. This “Clamping Effect,” also referred to as the Capping or Confinement Effect, is attributed to the mechanical stress and confinement from the top electrode layer. However, other contributions to orthorhombic phase stabilization have been experimentally reported, which may also be affected by the presence of a top electrode. In this study, it is shown that the presence of the top electrode during thermal processing results in larger tensile biaxial stress magnitudes and concomitant increases in ferroelectric phase fraction and polarization response, whereas film chemistry, microstructure, and crystallization temperature are not affected. Through etching experiments and measurement of stress evolution for each processing step, it is shown that the top electrode locally inhibits out‐of‐plane expansion in the HZO during crystallization, which prevents equilibrium monoclinic phase formation and stabilizes the orthorhombic phase. This study provides a mechanistic understanding of the clamping effect and orthorhombic phase formation in ferroelectric hafnium oxide‐based thin films, which informs the future design of these materials to maximize ferroelectric phase purity and corresponding polarization behavior.